Monday, June 30, 2014
Confessions of a Horrible Summertime Mother
Most people wouldn't classify me as a terrible summertime mom. I mean, I've already shared with my readers the color-coded calendar I hold in such high esteem. I'm very good at finding activities for my children to participate in during the hot summer months. It's the downtime I have trouble with.
That, my friends, is what makes me a terrible summertime mom.
I work. Which means that my time with my kids is relegated to anytime during the week after 1 and before 8 or 9 p.m. (preferably 8). That's usually when my kids want to go to wet places like the pool or the splash pad or the lake.
Now, I do love summer. Really. I grew up frolicking lakeside with my cousins, skiing, wake boarding and living in my swimsuit. It never bothered me that my diet consisted mainly of Rainbow white bread and bologna. In fact, at 10 years old, I liked it that way. I don't remember a lot of adults hovering around. Heck, I don't think I ever wore floaties or a life jacket. My family members just threw us in and hoped we'd float, I guess.
Deep down, I want that kind of abandon for my kids. I really do. But, the truth is, and I hate to admit it, I'd rather lay around the pool getting sun on my pasty skin than to slide into the frigid water to ensure my children didn't become drowning victims.
That's the first reason I'm a terrible summertime mom. Because I'm selfish enough to long for the freedom to soak up cancer-causing UV rays while catching up on the latest issue of People instead of yearning for the opportunity (fleeting as it is) to frolick in the water with my children. Do I frolick? Yes. Yes, I do. And I do enjoy it. Mostly.
Aside from my loss of sunning time, I find that my frequent visits to the pool are just another reason for me to worry. See, I have a 6-year-old who thinks he can swim. He can't. But, will he listen to reason? No. Will he wear the floaties? No. So, I'm constantly having to keep a visual vigil to make sure he doesn't literally get in over his head. This stresses me to no end. I'm longing for the day when he, like his 10-year-old brother, can touch most places in the pool so I can relax a little. I don't have these problems during other seasons of the year.
And can we talk lake water for a minute? Again, I'm not so neurotic that I'd let my over-exposure to nature shows ruin me for summertime fun. But, I've heard about the little no-see-'ems that live in lake water. When I submerge into the murky depths that I reveled in as a kid, now, as an adult, I'm imagining all kinds of icky things squirming into my swimsuit. I cringe every time I think about it. And now you are cringing, too. I'm sorry for ruining all your future lake trips. Just forget I said anything.
The next reason why I'm a terrible summertime mom? Schedules. I love them. I find a great deal of comfort in the mundane, as I've previously posted. I can't tell you how excited I get when the fall is rolling around and everything shifts back to its proper place. My Fall TV shows return, anchoring my evenings, my kids' school schedule kicks in and life makes sense once again. During the summer, I'm a one-person cabbie, carting kids from one camp to another (between pool visits). We're sometimes at full-day camps, sometimes at grandma's house. Other times camps don't start until 9:30, sometimes they end at noon. All of this juggling makes for an exhausting game of "what's next?" which scrambles what brains I have left.
And, while we're on the subject of things that bother me about summer, let's talk bugs. Now, I'm not a squirmy girl who can't stand all creepy crawling things. But I do hate mosquitos. Know what I hate more than mosquitos? June bugs. They just give me the creeps. I hate the way the buzz and crunch. And they seem to have no direction. They aren't flying towards the light; instead, they seem to just be writhing around like they have epilepsy. When do these little gems of nature appear, I ask you? In the summer. That's it. Never in the winter or the spring. Just summer. So, that's number three.
The fourth reason I suck at summer is the boredom factor. Even my kids have a certain threshold for swimming, movies, board games and scavenger hunts. And I can only fill the weekends with so many road trips and excursions. At some point they always whine the inevitable phrase, "I'm bored." It usually takes about five to six weeks before we reach this point. But, by the time they've had enough, we still have eight weeks of down-time looming before us.
And, not being the most Pinterest-y crafty mom out there, I can only do so much. I mean, the floors have to get mopped sometime, right? All of this open space where kids have so much unstructured time can weigh on a person. I'm starting to think maybe we need to have an optional summer school for those children of parents that just don't want to deal with the summertime slump.
I know. I know. All of this makes me a terrible human being. I should point out, though, that just because these particular areas do not fall into my "favorites" category, doesn't mean I don't find the joy in them. I realize all-too-well that these summertime moments with my kids will quickly pass by me. So, I soak them in, and bask in my beautiful kids' laughter and freedom.
My kids have no idea that these small annoyances bug me in the slightest (well, except maybe the June bugs). And I plan to keep it that way. One day, when they are on their own, I'll find plenty of time to lay around the pool. Not too long from now, my van will be empty of children needing me to cart them from one place or another (hopefully by that time I've traded the van in for a red convertible). And, at some time in my life, I'll have no reason to be outside when the bugs come out. When that happens my life will feel a lot emptier. The small feeling of irritation I have today will be replaced by a pain of longing for days gone by.
That's why it doesn't matter how much I suck at summer. I'm going to dive in while I still can. With bug spray, of course.